- Published on Monday, 22 October 2012 15:06
This article is written by our UK volunteer Peter Copsey on his experience at our 24 hour football marathon Match for a Day raising funds for our Hope Academies.
This year’s Match For A Day (MFAD) took place in Randburg on Saturday 13th October at 8am and ran for 24 hours. This was my first MFAD which is an annual event that raises money for the Hope Academy projects which are run through Ambassadors In Sport (AIS).
I have seen firsthand the impact the Hope Academies are having on people’s lives so it was great to help support this fundraising activity and in turn invest in people’s football, faith and future. I was part of the All Star AIS team that was to play football for 24 hours and as individuals we were tasked to raise at least R100 for every hour.
Apart from the 24 hour MFAD event there were two other competitions running during the day, last team standing and longest duration. Both were played on the first pitch and were popular this year with various teams coming to see how long they could play football for before they were defeated. Each game was 40 minutes in total and the winning team would stay on to play the next challengers whilst the losing team would move to the second pitch to play us All Stars in our 24 hour marathon.
The winning teams this year were Legal Wise A, who managed to stay on the field for the longest duration and Local Legends who were in fact the last team standing after winning the midnight game. No matter how long the losing team had been playing it was never going to be as long as the 24 hour team and every hour we were up against a much fresher team and as the hours went by it became increasingly harder. We started the 24 hours with 23 players but as the hours progressed team members began to drop out with various injuries putting extra strain on those of us who were left.
This year the Hope Academy children were given a more prominent role to play which was very impactful for everyone at the event. It gave people a chance to see where the money raised was going and the very real change it was making in these young people’s lives. Every person from a team entering the last team standing tournament would be taken onto the pitch with a Hope Academy child as a mascot and directly after they had finished playing against the All Stars they were given a presentation by the Hope Academy where one of the children would give their story, this was very powerful. During the day they also took part in a demonstration where people were given a snap shot of what happens at the Academy with a warm up and skills session being showcased.
The Academy was also able to take part in a game of their own and it was great to see them enjoying their football with their talents clear for all to see. You could not help but be touched by the kids and everywhere you looked the children were smiling and laughing.As part of the All Star team I was able to see for myself their football ability and passion as they played against us for an hour. For me it was also a very humbling experience.
The event was also supported by some famous faces in the world of football (over 100 international caps between them) which the Academy kids also got a chance to meet. The players included Gary Bailey (Manchester United), Mark Fish (Orlando Pirates & Bolton), Rowen Fernandez (Kaizer Chiefs & Supersport United) and Ricardo Katza (Hellenic & Supersport United). During the 24 hour match we also got a chance to play against these legends, unfortunately for us it was match 10 and we were all struggling by this point and were given a football lesson. For me though it was an honour to share the same pitch as these people.
At the half way stage the All Stars were down to about 18 players and it was becoming very tough for all involved to keep putting our bodies through games. As night arrived people were also battling sleep deprivation as well as fatigue and as bodies were getting tired we picked up more injuries. From a personal point of view from midnight my feet were so sore, every time I went to kick the ball I was greeted with pain. My back had been hurting since match two and both hamstrings were tight but I was doing my best just to make it through games. I was using deep heat and pain killers just to be able to make it onto the field let alone play and as more people were dropping out I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially the kids and those that had sponsored me.
By the time the last game came round my legs were like lead, I could hardly move them, I could no longer kick the ball above chest height as I had no power left in my legs and I know I was not alone. However we were now down to 6 people to represent the All Stars so I played the last game. When it was over every single one of the All Stars had given everything they had and we had achieved what we set out to do and that was to play football for 24 hours and more importantly raise significant funds for the future of the Hope Academy to continue its outstanding work.
Written by Peter Copsey